Idaho’s conversation on reproductive healthcare isn’t over yet

by Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

If the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade this summer, as a leaked draft opinion indicates, a trigger law banning nearly all abortions in Idaho wouldn’t be the end of the conversation about abortion and reproductive health in Idaho.

Rep. Brent Crane, current chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, told Idaho Reports on Friday that he would consider legislation to ban abortion-inducing medications sent via mail such as mifepristone and misoprostol. He said he would also hear legislation banning emergency contraception, commonly known as Plan B, citing health concerns about those medications. 

Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa)

When asked specifically about potential bans on intrauterine devices, Crane said he wasn’t yet certain. In a follow-up interview with the Idaho Statesman on Saturday, Crane said he would not support bans on contraception in general.

IUDs and Plan B both prevent sperm from reaching the egg, but can also stop fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterine walls. That has prompted opposition from some anti-abortion advocates who believe life begins with fertilization. 

Rep. Lauren Necochea, chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, appeared on the same Idaho Reports panel, and said she was concerned about the trajectory toward “more and more extreme and invasive proposals.”

“I’m disturbed that we would even talk about whether an IUD should be legal in Idaho. That’s an effective, well-used form of family planning. These things have to remain accessible.”

Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-Boise)

Necochea and Crane joined Idaho Reports on Friday to discuss what lawmakers might discuss in coming sessions should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade. Among the potential issues on the table: Increased social services and funding to help support women and families experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Crane said Republicans would prefer those safety nets come from private organizations, while Necochea said Democrats have always promoted increased spending in child care, housing, and healthcare. 

Crane said while he was disappointed that someone leaked the draft opinion to the press, he is happy about the potential overturn of Roe v Wade.

“It’s no secret that I am pro life, I’m anti abortion, so obviously this is an area of law that I’ve worked in and spent a lot of time working in,” Crane said.

“For a pro life lawmaker, this is something I’m very excited about,” Crane said. 

“I had a much different reaction. I was devastated to hear this news. This is a right we’ve had for all of our lifetimes, sitting around this table,” Necochea said. 

Idaho’s current law, set to go into effect after the court does overturn Roe, would make performing an abortion punishable by 2-5 years in prison and a medical license suspension. There are narrow exemptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. A companion bill, passed earlier this year, would allow family members of the fetus to sue the physician.

There are no laws on Idaho’s books to punish women who obtain abortions, and Crane said he hopes it stays that way. As House State Affairs chairman, Crane said he would not consider legislation that would criminally charge women for getting abortions, nor would he hear legislation concerning travel to other states for abortions.

“An individual still has a right to travel, and if (abortions are) legal in the state of Oregon and a woman in Idaho chooses to travel to Oregon, that’s a decision she is making to travel to Oregon,” Crane said. “When the government is stepping in and restricting people’s ability to travel, that is a scary place to be.”

“There’s no doubt that the House Republican Caucus is a very pro life caucus, but no, I don’t believe the caucus has shifted, that they want to punish a woman,” he said. 

But there is one major caveat to that prediction, Crane added.

“We’re going to probably see 30 new individuals come into the House of Representatives next year,” Crane said. “I don’t know where those 30 individuals are going to be on this particular issue, and it will be interesting to see the impact that this (Supreme Court) decision will have on those individuals and where they will be.”

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